Icahn gets more control over Occidental Petroleum

Carl Icahn, the man known as the “corporate raider,” won three seats on Occidental Petroleum’s board Friday, giving the billionaire activist investor greater control over the direction of the embattled Houston energy company.

It came two years after Icahn made a similar move and wrestled control of the now-failing SandRidge Energy company, a firm that literally has closed its doors and sold its 30-story office tower in downtown Oklahoma City.

Shareholders who gathered virtually for Oxy’s annual meeting elected Icahn Capital Portfolio Manager Nicholas Graziano, Icahn Enterprises General Counsel Andrew Langham and Margarita Paláu-Hernandez, CEO of Hernandez Ventures, to the company’s 11-member board of directors. The three Icahn-backed members were added to the board as a concession to Icahn, who has been vocal in his opposition to Oxy’s high-stakes takeover of rival Anadarko.

In 2018, a year after Icahn took control of SandRidge Energy, he managed to get some of his people named to the company’s board of directors. But it wasn’t an easy fight for Icahn as he struggled to get his people as directors.

By June of 2018, Icahn finally got his wish, landing five seats on the board, a move he needed in his plan to reportedly sell SandRidge Energy. Shareholders initially elected four of Icahn’s seven-person slate but the company later agreed to expand the board to eight members appointing an existing director and a five Icahn nominee.

Icahn, who at the time owned nearly 14% of the company made it clear from the start that he thought SandRidge should be sold. He not only thought executives were overpaid but was critical of a proposed SandRidge merger that was later withdrawn with a Colorado energy company, Bonanza Creek Energy.

Icahn’s criticism of SandRidge operations led to the ouster of former chief executive James Bennett and finance chief Julian Bott in February 2018.


SandRidge had argued Icahn wants to gain control of the company on the cheap by disrupting its directors’ review of a sale of assets or the entire company.

Sources: Reuters/Houston Chronicle